Several years ago I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Les Murray in Canberra. The following poem was read from a wide selection …
The Meaning of Existence
Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.
Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.
Les Murray (1939 – 2019) from Poems the Size of Photographs, 2002
In the light of the above poem … the ignorant freedom of my talking mind … I asked him whether he had made the right choice in life … an emphatic yes …words are what he had do … if ignored they would have digested him … he was doing what he had to do.
In Europe he was once asked what a poem was … a poem is a song without music … searching for the words behind the music.
He died at the age of 80 on 29 April. He will be remembered for his clever manipulation of words, great repartee, quick witted and a prodigious producer of poetry. A great example is his fast flowing verse novel character Fredy Neptune, 1998 where LM comes to terms with life and his own spiritual understanding of existence. And, of course, he will be remembered for his vernacular love of the Australian rural country. Today there is a memorial service for him at the NSW State Library in Sydney.